We all have a blind spot when it comes to our children, but what is going on in the town of Johnsburg far exceeds that.
Daniel B. Hitchcock, who has been the Johnsburg highway superintendent for more than a decade, has allowed his son to work for the Highway Department this summer in defiance of a Town Board vote back in June that forbids it.
Not only is the highway superintendent defying the Town Board, but his son has continued to file weekly time cards with expectations of being paid. The Town Board has rightfully not approved the time cards.
While highway superintendents are elected officials who can’t be fired, they are not kings, either.
The superintendent’s refusal to follow the guidelines of the town ethics policy about hiring a relative is a clear case of insubordination. These actions in the private sector would get you fired.
The backstory makes the highway superintendent’s actions even worse.
After his son, Daniel W. Hitchcock, left employment as a correction officer for Warren County, he was hired to work for the Johnsburg Highway Department.
He was arrested on July 15, 2018 for entering a rental home near his house, hopping into bed with a sleeping woman and fondling her. He later pleaded guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanor forcible touching and served four months in jail.
After the younger Hitchcock got out of jail, his father the superintendent asked permission from the Town Board to rehire him. The resolution failed because it garnered only two of the three votes needed to pass.
But over the summer, it was brought to the attention of Town Board members that the younger Hitchcock was seen working for the town Highway Department. Some residents wanted to know how a convicted felon was being allowed to work for the department after the Town Board ruled he could not.
We’d like to know that, too.
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This brings up a number of concerns.
First, the highway superintendent’s actions fly in the face of town law and the direction of the Town Board. The state should immediately review the situation and take steps to discipline or remove Hitchcock from office.
No person should be above town law, and that is clearly what the elder Hitchcock is trying to be.
Second, having a person who is technically not an official employee of the town working for the Highway Department opens the town to liability if the younger Hitchcock is injured or involved in some sort of accident.
The town is smart to have a nepotism law in place that is supposed to head off these types of situations from ever happening.
The fact that the elder Hitchcock is not following it is a violation of his oath of office.
When a Post-Star reporter called the highway garage on Wednesday wanting to talk to either of the Hitchcocks, he was told neither was available and the younger Hitchcock was “out on the road,” apparently still working a job he is not supposed to be working.
But here is the worst part of all.
The highway superintendent is not running for re-election this year. He is instead running for town supervisor.
We’ve got a pretty good guess what the first order of business would be if he is elected.
That may leave this case in the hands of the voters of Johnsburg, who will need to decide if they want to vote for a candidate who has no respect for the law.